DURHAM, N.C. – Eighteen journalists from national and regional news outlets are gaining a firsthand respective on some of North Carolina’s most pressing environmental issues as part of the inaugural Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources’ (IJNR) North Carolina Institute.

The institute, which runs from March 3-8, is hosted by the Superfund Research Center at Duke University and Superfund Research Program at the University of North Carolina.

The institute is structured as a “learning expedition” in which journalists visit field sites and laboratories where they meet face-to-face with scientists, conservationists, legislators, policy experts, fishermen, farmers, community leaders, and representatives of nonprofit and industry advocacy groups.

Activities kicked off in the Triangle region, where the journalists had the opportunity to explore the changing regulatory landscape in NC; meet scientists from the Superfund Research Program; visit the Ward Transformer Superfund site; visit the Environmental Chemistry Lab at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and learn about flame retardants in their furniture; and consider how recent droughts in the state may affect policy.

On Wednesday, the journalists boarded a bus and headed for the coast, stopping along the way to learn about industrial chemicals in agriculture; the concerns of migrant farmworkers; hog farming in North Carolina and related water-quality concerns.

They are spending Thursday in the Beaufort and Down East region, where they are learning about oyster reef restoration, fisheries and coastal water quality, and visiting the Duke University Marine Lab and other area research and conservation facilities.

Friday and Saturday will be spent in the Outer Banks, where they will learn about the unique challenges of development and ecosystem management on barrier islands, as well as hurricanes’ impacts on the islands and the people who live there.

Journalists taking part in the institute hail from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Washington, D.C., Texas, Rhode Island and California.

Nicholas School faculty members Richard Di Giulio, Heather Stapleton and Lisa Campbell are among the experts they will be meeting. To learn more about the Duke Superfund Research Center and its programs, visit its website at Duke SRC.